Beneficial Beyotching: Learning How to Complain at Crafts Fairs.

It's a beautiful day, you have an amazing booth at a fabulous, perfect location...but no shoppers appear.


You set up at what promises to be a successful craft show, only to have an inconsiderate neighbor strategically place display fixtures so that they block your product.

WWTNND? (What would The NewNew do?)

We spoke with several of The Etsy New York Team members to find out how they handle situations like the ones above, and to two local show promoters to find out if squeaky wheels really do get the grease.

Yania, from Yania Creations says "I have complained a couple times and always to do with low foot traffic when it was obvious the right promotion was not done. When you are at the right location, right weather, all is good and nobody shows up, that means no promotion was done and that pisses me off."

But many crafters feel that making a complaint about the lack of traffic at a fair can hurt their chances to be accepted into future events that might be well attended.

Holly Ellis from Ellis Design explains: "It took me quite a while to get the backbone to complain to a promoter. But after a while I realized that I pay entry fees, jury fees, and invest my time in being there, so if I have an issue I should speak up." At a poorly attended venue Holly didn't just give the show promoter an earful, however. She explains:"I approached the situation more as an inquiry about what promotion was done. When the promoter fessed up that she was new to organizing events, I expressed my disappointment at the turnout. I explained that I had promoted quite a bit and had a good number of my peeps come but that it simply did not feel like the community had any idea the event
was being held. I could have just fumed all day under my breath and vowed never to do the show again but after speaking with the promoter I felt better and she seemed to appreciate the feedback and knowledge that what she did do was simply not enough."

One show promoter we spoke with agreed that the way Holly approached the situation was helpful. "It is awful when someone comes at you in anger and accuses you of not promoting an event." said one Brooklyn fair organizer, who said she is happy to engage in constructive dialogue with a vendor who asks reasonable questions about what marketing strategies were employed for an event. "Sometimes we can discover new ways of promoting, or get really good suggestions from vendors who position themselves as more of our partners than our adversaries in discussions like this." When asked if speaking up and expressing disappointment in an event can effect admission to future shows,the promoter said simply "we prefer to work with people who seek solutions and don't particularly enjoy working with people who only seek to lay blame, but speaking up will certainly not get you banned from a show."

One vendor who did speak up and saw a good result is Nordea from Nordea Soaperie who spoke up about an overcrowded vendor situation at a recent event. "I wasn't the only one complaining," Nordea said, "but not sure how many actually spoke to the promoter." having the gumption to address the problem in a constructive way paid off when she returned to a later event and found the layout and the spacing much improved. Nordea stresses this about complaining: "Sometimes if you don't let an organizer know what the problems are....they cannot correct them."

One Manhattan show promoter who runs very large events in the city gave us a few simple tips for complaining about craft shows:

Complain at the right time. Chose a moment when there is time, will and energy to deal constructively with the problem. If dealing with an issue like an obnoxious show neighbor- you need to complain immediately--but for something like lack of promotion it may be even better to hold your feedback for a time when you are less emotional and annoyed.

Don't just complain, point out what is good. Balanced feedback includes an appreciation of the positive aspects of an experience. Make sure you are not mired so deeply in the negative that you forget the positives.

Coming forward with a complaint can be a very positive experience for both parties because it can lead to great change. So Speak Up! Please share any experiences you've had with complaining in our comments section below.

We have extended last week's giveaways from Wabisabi Brooklyn and PrismPop. Please read our older posts to enter and win prizes from these great shops.

If I Had A Bell...

Remember this old song? It was a staple during my summer sleep-away-camp days:

"If I had a bell, I'd ring it in the morning, I'd ring it in the evening, All over this land..."

It reminds me of all the creative ways we handcraft-folk strive to let the world at large know what we're doing. Of course, we try to ring bells with our Etsy shops and our blogs, with the hope that the attention will lead to sales. But I think it's also fair to say that it's difficult to create in a vacuum.

Judging by a recent blog roundup from my fellow {NewNew} artisans, talking about how we do what we do, as well as what and who inspires us to keep creating is an important part of the process. The ongoing inspiration and the sense of satisfaction we get from knowing someone likes something we made -- uses it, wears it, cherishes it -- is, well, kinda awesome.

prismPOP @ My Coney clearly has a soft spot for Coney Island USA, but also blogs about her experience at the recent Renegade Craft Fair with her fellow {NewNew}ers and (ouch!) sunburnt knees.

pandawithcookie @ offers an inside look at preparations for her first craft show, Seventh Heaven, in Brooklyn.

fubabee @ Pretty Stationery for Beautiful Souls talks about what inspires her beautiful stationery, but also tackles the whole "wedding industrial complex" as part of an ongoing meditation on the value of handmade.

pulpsushi @ writes with verve (and lots of exclamation points!) about what inspires her in work and life.

dirtylovesclean @ invites readers to follow her soap-making adventures, which include the pros and cons of craft fairs, veggie "meat", and the creation of a boxed wine soap.

jantar @ Jantar Handcrafted Jewlery uses her blog like an inspiration board, full of pictures and stories behind the creation of her lovely jewelry, as well as detailed, easy-to-follow how-to's.

You'll find all of these blogs, and more, through the {NewNew} member shop links and banners on the left. Take a moment to follow the links and learn a little bit about what inspires some of your favorite artisans. Perhaps you'll be inspired too.


Merpeople live underwater

The Mermaid Parade kicks off summer swimming season in Coney Island every year since 1983. Saturday was rainy (not surprising given the recent weather conditions) and local fair, Flea by the Sea, sent an e-mail announcing that it would be closed due to forecasted thunderstorms. Despite seemingly negative factors - the country's largest art parade went on as scheduled!

Dick Zigun, the unofficial mayor of Coney Island, founded both the Coney Island Circus Sideshow and Mermaid Parade in the early 80's. He dreamed of celebrating the artistry and heritage of Coney Island in similar fashion to the Village's Halloween Parade crossed with the Mardi Gras of Coney Island's past (1903-1954).

Every year, people and animals of all kinds come out to the beaches of Brooklyn to join in the masquerading. Most costumes pay homage to sea life: jellyfish, sharks, titans + pirates were all in attendance this year.

Many folks also enjoy celebrating the freaks of circus culture - Zoltar (from the movie Big) was seen headed down Surf Avenue granting wishes.

Mermaid parade is well known for scandalous costumes including partial nudity and lots of pasties - apparently it is legal in New York State for women to be topless in public as long as it is not part of a business venture. Interesting.

These three women were fully covered in body paint - not sure how they relate to mermaids but certainly fit right in with the Coney Island spirit.

The parade route ran along Surf Ave showcasing floats and antique cars - as well as several political activists, voicing their opinions on the current state of Coney Island.

Years past have threatened they would be the last of the Mermaid Parades, but fortunately the show continues to go on! Beads were tossed from floats, the Ringling Bros. handed out plastic noses + dancing was infectious.

All in all, it was a wonderful showcase of the creativity and fun New York City and Coney Island specifically, have to offer. The day started off to a very wet start - but rains calmed to a slight drizzle for the majority of the parade. Either way, the merpeople were happy - they do live underwater after all!

- lisa

Meet your {NewNew}

I had the privilege of sitting down with Lisa Toff of myconey. Here's our interview:

Tell us a bit about yourself: I work in Coney Island and share a studio space with my musician husband. I was in fashion for five years and decided to leave it last summer to pursue art of my own making. I work on prism POP, p*Charming and I freelance as a graphic designer / fashion illustrator.

What is your shop name?
I have two:
prismPOP :
prismpop is devoted to being eco-mindful while maintaining a commitment to design. prismpop focuses on paper products including postcards (my favorite correspondence), art prints and gift enclosures.
p*Charming : p*Charming is all about personalization - I think it's important to have an intimate experience when selecting charm jewelry so I encourage mixing and matching to create the perfect piece.

Why the 2 shops? Why not just run one shop? I struggled with whether or not to keep them separate or together. I started with p*Charming and when i decided to create prismPOP I didn't want to confuse the customer with a completely different product. I wanted to be sure each shop maintained it's own synergy. I still question whether it was the right choice.

Materials: For prismPOP i use 100% recycled paper and soy ink. For p*Charming, I use so many found items that it varies - brass, Swarovski crystal, silver plated and glass.

Married? Yep - I work in Coney Island and share a studio space with my musician husband and no kids - been married under a year, so I guess we are still considered newlyweds.

What part of your life do you find is/was the most creative? Do you think back to these times when creating your work? I really think I've maintained the same creativity throughout my life - I like to draw from modern influences - I love the ever-changing nature of art and it completely inspires me to create!

What is your creative process when making your product? I will feel inspired from an art exhibit or something I've seen in and around the world - I'll note it , mentally or jotting it down or photographing it and then later I will typically have another creative burst that seems to work well with the initial inspiration. I work on the computer to mix the two together; it feels rather serendipitous.

Do you have any creative thinking tricks you like to share? I studied art history and photography undergrad, then I started going to Pratt for communication design but it focused too much on psychology and marketing. I did not complete that program, but at least it brought me to NYC!

When you get stuck, how do you get out of it? That's the great thing about doing prismPOP, p*Charming & freelancing, I can easily work on a different project and still maintain my productivity.

What is something about yourself that surprises people when they find out about it? Probably that I'm married...that i live in Coney Island...that I speak Russian...that I had meningitis in college - maybe I'm predictable? That I lived in Ghana for 3 months?

What inspires you? My husband, street art (Judith supine, os gemeos), Brooklyn, Manhattan, traveling - definitely other cultures and local artisans.

What is the first thing you remember making? I was obsessed with balloon animals.

What are your current projects and what is on the horizon? I'm looking forward to expanding prismPOP with new designs, creating more products than I currently have, and outreaching to venues beyond NYC. :)

Why should people buy handmade? I think it's important to support artisans to continue crafts and traditions. If we rely on machines too much, the beauty in creating might be lost. I think the old tradition of apprenticeship is so valuable - learning how to create with your hands is a wonderful experience.

What handmade possession do you most cherish? I love a doll I picked up at last year's renegade craft fair.

Apart from creating things, what do you do? It's my life and right now I'm adopting a puppy - but otherwise that's what i do!

In ten years I'd like to be... In ten years I'd like to be as happy as I am today - I'd like to have a bigger family and continue my passion for traveling.

What are your your best-selling items? Best selling on-line is the cutlery necklace. . . and in person the individual letters (which I do not put online because they are often one of a kind) - people love personalizing by adding a letter to a necklace.

What item are you most proud of? I'm not most proud of any item but more that I am making it on my own - having worked for corporate America for so long, it's nice to be independent.

Last words? I love creating and I love inviting others to create as well - in fact I have a swap listed on my blog encouraging others to be in the process!

In conclusion, I'd like to add that I found it very inspirational to be able to sit down with a trained artist who works on her art for a living. Being not so far from Coney Island, I find her endearing, and inspirational. We should all strive to be inspired by our work and not be so focused on sales that we forget about our art. That's what I got from my interview with her.

-The Craftaholic
Sweet Buddha Designs

Eco-Conscious Wedding Paper Product Alternative Ideas (that's a mouthful!)

My husband + I wanted a beautifully and thoughtfully decorated wedding - but we also wanted it to be ecologically responsible, economically reasonable and also represent 'us' [tall glass to fill!] The first of many decisions began with our save-the-date. Yes, there are tons of adorable and clever options out there (magnets, cookies, candles, etc); but rather than create excessive waste, we determined that every single person on our invite list (save for 5 people over the age of 80) had an e-mail address. We therefore sent out an electronic fyi (which was a huge hit) also serving double duty requesting mailing addresses for the formal invitation.

Easy steps to e-mail save-the-date:
(1) Craft a message that is personal - reflecting you as a team.
Include the necessary information:
- date
- location
- hotel information (if you have it)
- website (if you are doing that)
- address information (if you need it)
(2) Attach a photo - everyone loves to see the couple in a funny state [fortunately for me, i've known my guy since we were 12] If anyone on your list is insistent on prehistoric methods, they can print out the attachment + affix to their refrigerator. Here is a blank version for you to use if you'd like :
Also, you are welcome to use this MARRIAGE header + footer I created to frame the text of the e-mail:
Next, invitations! If you do not feel comfortable with complete DIY invitations, waisze and fubabee both offer options in customization (color, font + wording choices among others) in their ETSY shops.

We wanted to explain the customs and traditions of our wedding, as well as highlight those participating. A very simple DIY solution (that doesn't involve bows, glue or much more than a paper cutter) is following this format:
(1) Chose 11x17 paper or card stock. Each sheet will yield 2 programs.
(2) Design your monogram or emblem, which will be placed on the far right. Make sure it is no wider than 1 inch. For example: Wedding of _____ & _____ with optional date and place - or just initials is also lovely.
(3) Design the text keeping in mind that you will be folding the paper 8 inches in from the left (therefore leave a gutter)
*Keep all of the above no taller than 5 inches from the top.
(4) Duplicate all of your top content directly below.
(5) Print / Copy just over half of the amount you anticipate needing.
(6) Cut every sheet in half lengthwise (hot dog - not hamburger) so that you are left with 2 pieces of 5.5 x 17
(7) Fold - not in half - but so that your names are visible on the right hand side.
This may seem simple, but really these are generally a throw-away (except for maybe your paternal grandmother) and super easy!

Cheers + Great Wishes!

- lisa